A couple of weeks ago I suggested that Canada should be a lot more like Australia when it comes to border security, including stating, in law, that one is not “in Canada” and subject to all the rights available under our Charter just because one’s feet are on Canadian soil. To be “in Canada,” I believe, one must have satisfied an official at our border that one has valid, lawful reasons to be here. Just because you are in the long lineup before the immigration counters at Pearson or Trudeau or Vancouver International Airports should not mean that you cannot be, forcibly if need be and immediately, sent directly back to the country from which you just came ~ wherever that may be ~ at the sole discretion of an official. I know that our Supremes have ruled differently, but the world has changed and, if necessary, we must use the “notwithstanding” clause and/or new legislation to correct the situation.
This is especially germane right now since it appears that the Trudeau government is about to cede to the US border services “rights” that our own security services do not have. US border officials, an article on the CBC News web site says, will “get new powers to question, search and even detain Canadian citizens on Canadian soil under a bill proposed by the Liberal government.” In other words, US agents will have powers over Canadians, on Canadian soil, that Canadian agents do not have over foreigners who are, very clearly, trying to enter Canada illegally.
We, Canadians, should want to do at least three things, more or less concurrently:
- Make it easier for American and Canadian citizens to move back and forth to study, work and invest in each other’s country, with less and less and less hindrance;
- Try to help the USA make itself more secure, or, at least help make it feel more secure, and if that means that some people, say legitimate visitors to Canada and even Permanent Residents of Canada, can be inconvenienced by US border agents then so be it … but Canadian citizens, holders of Canadian passports, should have an absolute right to enter their own country and to decide, even at the very last moment, not to enter the USA without being detained, in Canada, by US agents; and
- Make it easier for e.g. Australians, Brits, Chinese and Danes and so on, people from countries that generally find it easy to integrate into and succeed here, to enter Canada but we should, at the same time, be more careful about admitting people from countries that have a “record” of either causing problems for or not succeeding in Canada.
We want more immigrants. We need more immigrants to help us grow and prosper in the 21st century. Some countries ~ in 2015 it was China, India and Philippines ~ provide most of our immigrants (40+% in 2015) while 190+ other countries provide less than 60% of the total, and that includes e.g. America, Britain and France which, together, provided over 18,000 of the 217,000 immigrants admitted in 2015, almost as many, combined, as we got from China, alone.
There’s a reason why the Philippines, India and China are the “top three” source countries: they provide educated, sophisticated, entrepreneurial people who, already, share many of our social values and who adapt quickly, easily and comfortably into Canadian society. They often find it easier than others to succeed, to integrate, to prosper and, therefore, to be happy in Canada: a Filipina nurse, an Indian accountant or a Chinese chemist will, usually find it much easier to secure Canadian accreditation for their “old country” qualifications than will, say, a Syrian nurse, a Nigerian accountant or a Pakistani chemist. It may or may not be “fair” but it is how things happen because our professional standards bodies have much higher levels of trust in the qualifications and degrees awarded in those three countries than in the qualifications awarded in many, many other countries.
Before we can have a sound immigration policy ~ one that, selfishly, serves out vital interests, we must have a sound border security policy ~ one that protects our interests and our people.